A First-Aid Kit for your Marriage

Today I would like to share some tips that my husband, Kendall, and I are working on putting into practice in our marriage. Perhaps you have a good relationship and these tips will make it even better. Or maybe your marriage is dying a slow death and your relationship needs a major overhaul. I highly recommend the book, The Man’s Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the “Love Lab” About What Women Really Want by John Gottman, PhD, Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD, Douglas Abrams, and Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD.

“If you are a man and you bought this book (or borrowed it), congratulations! You are a pioneer. A sterotype-busting man among men. A soon-to-be-Hero who knows how to be the man that all women wish they had…We’ve written this book as an easy-to-read and easy-to-use guide…So here’s the news flash: Men, you have the power to make or break a relationship.”

The Man’s Guide to Women, page viii

Women and emotions

One aha moment for me (Ruth) was realizing that “Men regard intimacy as playing or working side by side.” I used to wonder why Kendall invited me outside to help him with mechanical tasks. For me, intimacy is about talking to someone I can trust. Now I know that my husband was wanting to be closer to me. I usually rejected his invitations because I am NOT a mechanic. Now I realize that just being with him while he is working shows him I care about him.

Something Kendall did not realize is that stress makes me fearful. And when I’m fearful I don’t want to try anything new. And when he pushes me to do something new, I become more stressed. And round and round it goes.

“When a happily married woman held her husband’s hand, the fear response was completely shut down in her brain.”

The Man’s Guide to Women, Page 30

Honest Conversation

Kendall and I used to go on dates and all we could talk about was our kids. If we didn’t talk about the kids, we just sat there and looked at each other. Our dates have become much more fun since we discovered asking open-ended questions that help us learn more about each other. Not sure what to ask? Try 15 Questions You Should Ask Your Partner or The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, PhD. s

“Unlike men, women are much more geared for collaboration, not competition.”

The Man’s Guide to Woman, Page 56

I (Ruth) am learning to enter friendly competition with my husband. Kendall is learning to sit and listen, not just to the words I say, but also to the meaning behind the words.

The Man’s Guide to Woman has chapters on Understanding a Woman, Dating a Woman, Romancing a Woman, Making Love to a Woman, Living With a Woman, and Loving a Woman for a Lifetime.

If you want to “Affair-proof” your marriage, here are some suggestions from the book:

  1. The 6-second kiss (every time you leave and come back together)
  2. Date each other
  3. Get to know each other
  4. Appreciate each other
  5. Honor each other’s dreams

You may also be interested in a new course by Sheila Wray Gregoire:

Boost Your Libido

  • Ten 10-minute videos and modules
  • Each module has a fact sheet with extra information, a worksheet, and a brainstorming exercise, along with some extra resources if you want to read more.

What tips have you found helpful in building and/or maintaining your relationship?

Are you ready to boost your libido

 

 

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Musical Countdown to Christmas: We Three Kings by John H. Hopkins Jr.

Musical Christmas8

Welcome to Day 8 in my musical countdown to Christmas. Today we take a look at We Three Kings by John H. Hopkins, Jr.

Who was John H. Hopkins Jr.?

  • Born October 28, 1820 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • His father was Bishop of Vermont
  • Graduated from the University of Vermont
  • Worked as a reporter, intending to go on to law school
  • Attended General Theological Seminary instead
  • Taught music at General Theological Seminary
  • Was a writer and poet, book illustrator, and stained glass window designer
  • Also worked as editor, deacon, priest, and rector

The Story behind We Three Kings

  • Originally titled The Quest of the Magi
  • Written in 1857 for a Christmas pageant at General Theological Seminary
  • Based on the biblical story of the Magi and their journey to worship the promised Messiah (Matthew 2:1,2)

Historical Context

  • Stephen Douglas founded a Baptist Seminary in Chicago
  • The United States Supreme Court ruled that Africans could not become citizens
  • Mark Twain began a two year apprenticeship to become a riverboat pilot
  • Joseph Gayetty invented commercial toilet paper
  • James Buchanan became the 15th President of the United States of America
  • The Ohio Life Insurance and Trust (New York Branch) failed, causing widespread financial panic
  • Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of Canada

Looking for more details?

My Gift for today:

Leave a comment below for your opportunity to win a CD with two Focus on the Family radio interviews with Mr. Tim Sisarich.

Tim Sisarich


NAME Canada – Men and Women Resolve Conflict Differently

Forgiveness

Bill & Pam Farrel shared some important reminders with us about resolving conflict with our spouse:

  • Women tend to confront issues while men tend to bury issues
  • Couples who can identify the real issues can grow closer
  • Emotions follow decisions

Decide AHEAD of time how you will deal with conflict!

Forgive One Another

People don’t fall out of love, they fall out of the willingness to forgive.

Colossians 3:13 – we are supposed to forgive everyone (even our spouse)!

What forgiveness is not:

  • Just letting it go
  • Saying “It’s okay”
  • Denial
  • Forgetting
  • Reconciliation

Forgiveness is a decision you make in your heart to not allow anyone else to control your emotional life.

Reconciliation is a decision to restore a broken or hurting relationship

Forgiveness makes sure there’s no bitterness in your life.

Six Statements of Forgiveness

  1. I forgive (name) for (offense) 1 John 1:9; Genesis 45 – reunion of Joseph and his brothers
  2. I admit that what happened was wrong. (If nothing was wrong, maybe a bad attitude just needs to be adjusted.) Romans 3:23; Genesis 45:5
  3. I do not expect this person to make up for what he or she has done. (Take them off your hook, and put them on God’s hook! Give God a chance to work on the person.) II Cor 5:17
  4. I will not use what happened to define who this person is. (Give up name-calling. Ask God to help you see that person as He sees them.) Forgiveness sets us free to be able to love in a healthy way. Ephesians 1 – God looks at everyone as desperately needing His grace.
  5. I will not manipulate this person with this offense. (Don’t beat people up with the past.) II Cor. 5:17 (Imagine the relationship you’d have with Jesus if he manipulated you by what he knows about you. He doesn’t do that.) Genesis 45:10 (If someone is moving from toxic to healthy, they own their issue: This is what I did. I’m so sorry I hurt you. What can I do to earn back your trust?)
  6. I will not allow what has happened to stop my personal growth. II Peter 3:18 You don’t have to be perfect, but you need to work on getting better. Bitterness stunts your growth.

Boundaries are put in place to give others time to allow God to work in their lives.

Psalm 103 – Bless the Lord, O My Soul

 


Fighting for the BEST in your Marriage and 5 Minute Friday

Best Marriage

Jeff and Lori Harmon shared a session about, “Fighting for the BEST in your Marriage,” at the NAME Conference in November. Here is some of the information they shared:

Scriptures: Genesis 2:24; Genesis 3:1; John 8:44; John 10:10

  • God is the one who processes us to make the two into one.
  • God is with us. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We need to deal with our baggage and our thoughts.
  • “I do” and “I will” need to be true on your marriage day and throughout your marriage.
  • Our marriages are under attack. Satan slithers into our marriage – Hollywood, movies, books, etc. and works to separate us.
  • We don’t struggle against flesh and blood. Too often we fight inside our marriage instead of fighting outside our marriage. Satan wants to bring the worst. We need to fight for the best in our marriage. Satan is a liar. Lies seep their ways in. Maybe my spouse isn’t the one God wanted me to marry. Satan goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
  • We are not just fighting for ourselves; we are also fighting for the next generation.
  • We will all fail. Jesus does not condemn us; He points out the ideal and gives us the grace, courage, and strength to get there. You’ll never be good enough; Jesus is good enough
  • We can’t compare! This brings condemnation, not conviction.

The word, “Marriage” comes from the  Greek word for “gem”. Just like time and pressure turn a chunk of coal into a diamond, so God uses time and pressure to turn our marriages into something precious.

God never meant for marriage to be learned alone.

The BEST Marriage

B – Bless your spouse

  • God wants us to be “blessers”.
  • The first 4 minutes of your day will set the tone for your day.
  • Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 10:18.
  • Our world is very negative. We need each other to speak blessing and encouragement.
  • Speak words to your spouse and about them Hebrews 11:3 – our words frame our world
  • Use “Please” and “Thank you” – When was the last time you thanked your spouse?
  • Say “I love you.” even if you don’t feel it. Keep putting out the words and your spirit will follow
  • Pray for your spouse; NOT preach, preach, preach

E – Edify

  • You can say what you have or you can have what you say. Encourage, delight, fulfill – building with actions. Romans 10:19
  • God has put you in your marriage to build up your spouse.God wants you to serve. Your spouse is not your workmanship; they may be a piece of work, but they are not your piece of work.
  • Edify = to enlarge your spouse’s self-worth. Help them feel better about themselves. Your spouse is not there to make you complete – that’s Christ’s job. A spouse is a coach that runs along side you, cheering you on. You need to know your spouse so that you can edify and strengthen them. There is power in believing in your spouse.

S – Share

  • We become selfish with our time, needs, feelings. Communication is often a problem. We become disconnected. Couples who share their feelings are closer and can go through their difficulties much easier.
  • Your spouse should be your soulmate. If you’re closer to someone else, it’s because you’re talking to them more.
  • Cover/protect one another. Be your spouse’s BFF. You need to learn to have an expanded ability to share.
  • Silence can be a wedge between you and your spouse. Sharing is about not keeping secrets. I love what he loves because I love him. Share your dreams and visions.
  • Ask: How are we doing on a scale of 1-10? Why? What area needs improvement?

T – Touch

  • Kissing is beneficial for your health. A kiss is like a seal of approval.
  • Science of 7 – a woman needs 7 touches throughout the day – non-sexual.
  • Physical affirmation says, “I love you.”  Women need security. Touching and affirming. Touching kindles a flame.

Are you fighting for the BEST in your marriage? Ladies, I invite you to join me in The Red Hot Wives Challenge put together by Bill & Pam Farrel.

 

Give

Give

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

“Give, and it will be given to you, shaken down … running over.”

“Come unto me, all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will GIVE you rest.”

Christmas is just around the corner. In our home we consciously work at helping our children learn to GIVE:

  • We encourage them to give gifts to each other
  • We encourage them to give gifts to other people
  • We encourage them to give their time to help others by baking cookies, caroling around the neighborhood, volunteering at a soup kitchen

Jesus Christ is our example of giving.

At Christmas we celebrate that He gave up everything He had in Heaven, coming to earth as a helpless baby.

At Easter we celebrate that He gave His life in exchange for ours.

What will we give today?

Five minute Friday provides an opportunity to write for 5 minutes using a prompt, and then link in with other people who’ve done the same. If you’d like to participate, check out the details on Kate’s blog.


Name Conference: Marriages that Last

Lasting Marriage

Yesterday at church we celebrated two marriages which have stood the test of time. One couple has been married for 53 years. The other couple celebrated 63 years of marriage.

Have you ever wondered why some marriages fail while others thrive?

Here’s some more information that Bill and Pam Farrel shared about lasting marriages at the NAME Marriage Conference in November.

Seven stages most couples go through

  1. Newlywed
  2. Couple begins family
  3. Children enter school
  4. Children enter teen years
  5. Children enter adulthood
  6. Retirement Years
  7. Aging/Loss of spouse

“A hormone called PEA is released when you decide to marry someone – you’re actually addicted to this person. This lasts 18-24 months. When it’s gone, it’s gone. However, Oxytocin can be produced over and over by laughing together, by sharing mutually satisfying experiences, and sex.”

  • Women don’t divide their love, it multiplies!
  • Treat your spouse like company.
  • Sometimes it’s not just a spiritual problem, maybe we need a nap!

Midlife transitions: Wife’s search for significance; Husband’s search for companionship

We experience:

  • Overstated emotions
  • Question: Who am I and why am I on the face of this globe?
  • Most vulnerable to an affair

Work through Crisis

Wise women will take the question to God

“I love you too much to let life pull us apart, so let’s set some date nights.”

Men: Superman syndrome

  • Men become aware of the expenses of life
  • Men can become so focused on providing for the family that they forget to build relationship with the family
  • Testosterone drops in mid-life
  • Health crisis that gets your attention
  • Mid-life is a transition like puberty; transition from productivity to wisdom. People need your wisdom!

 Questions couples should ask themselves:

  1. Who would be a great mentor couple for us?
  2. When’s a great time for a date night? (Hint for couples with young children: Thursday night toy box. Put together a special box of toys children can only have on Thursday night (or whatever night you have your date night). Children have to stay on their beds to play with their special toy box.)

Seasoned Sisters – a supportive group of women Pam gets together with regularly.

  • In construction “sistering” = putting 2×4’s together so they can bear more weight; we should be doing this for each other as women.
  • “Choosing Joy!” – a phrase Pam uses to remind herself that she can’t change the circumstances, but she can change her attitude.

Pray Scriptures over your family

Isaiah 30:8 The Lord longs to be good to you

REMEMBER!

  • “If couples can hang through this transition (midlife), life will right itself.”
  • God is good all the time! Hang on to that. Goodness is ahead. Stick together.
  • Write out a dream list of what you want to do in the second half of your life.
  • Number one trait of couple who last a lifetime – want a love that lasts a lifetime (Pure grit and determination)

“Remind each other: It’s not you, it’s not me, it’s just life!”

 


NAME Conference: Men and Women Relieve Stress Differently

What kind of lover are you

“The right amount of stress allows you to be everything God created you to be. We need to keep stress at a level to be productive.” Bill & Pam Farrel

The following information was shared by Bill & Pam Farrel at the 2014 NAME Marriage Conference.

Women de-stress by talking things out (Stress = like having a meatball land on her pile of spaghetti; she needs to get all the noodles back in place and figure out how to fit the meatball in as well.)

Men create a new box (an easy box), figure it out, put a lid on it and don’t go back there.

Women need to find some REALLY good girlfriends 🙂

  1. Give some type of warning that our stress level is rising to dangerous levels (Pasta Princess)
  2. When one thing is wrong in a woman’s life, everything is wrong. Take your thoughts captive. (Stop. What’s the truth? Something I love about my husband is something that’s irritating me.)
  3. When we look at our husbands and it seems like they’re doing nothing, we have to remember they are recharging by going to their “easy” box.

Galatians 5:13 Serve one another in love. When you bring down the stress in your partner, your needs aren’t necessarily met. Take turns helping each other de-stress.

Bill plays basketball while Pam prays and journals through her feelings.

One way to lower stress is to raise the energy level – motivate one another. Everyone is motivated differently. We need to figure out how each person is motivated:

Extrovert: Act and then wonder if they should have done it based on what happens. Tip: Carry an iPad or smartphone around and write it down so you can read it before you say it. Ask – are we doing what we agreed to do?

Introvert: Constantly holding onto thoughts, get their feelings hurt. Introverts need to remember: Sometimes conversation is just conversation. When we spend time together, do we connect?

Task oriented people: would rather spend time with people AFTER the work is done

People oriented people: Get things done, but are constantly sidetracked by people.

Finding your uniqueness:

  1. Lover #1 Knight in shining armor; queen of hearts
  2. Lover #2 The hopeless romantic
  3. Lover #3 Wind beneath my wings
  4. Lover #4 True Blue Lover

Lover #1 – Knight in Shining Armor/Queen of Hearts

  • -Power
  • -Dominant
  • -Task oriented
  • -Love control
  • -Love cooperative environment they create
  • -Get on with a decision

Romance: love adventure, no guided tours, hiking, anything they decide, make a list and check it off.

Motivated by control of decisions

Give kids like this options and give them responsibility

 

Lover #2 – The Hopeless Romantic

  • -People
  • -Party
  • -Popuplar
  • -extroverted
  • -new adventures
  • -center of attention
  • -like lots of people
  • -fun, not boring
  • -Like new experiences

e.g. Peter

Preferences in Romance: anything new, entertainment that is personal and touches the heart, human drama, adventurous outings, exotic getaways

Motivated by public attention

 

Lover #3 – Wind Beneath My Wings

  • -introverted
  • -Like to help others succeed
  • -Take it as it comes
  • -Stress free
  • -Time to talk
  • -No problem solving
  • -Not over-scheduled
  • -No high expectations
  • -People time

Preferences in Romance: Light schedule, simple activities, time to relax, best event is good company, atmosphere of acceptance, entertainment where there is plenty of time to enjoy it

Motivated by acceptance/respect

 

Lover #4 – True Blue Lover

  • -Routines
  • -Task-oriented
  • -Predictable
  • -Significant
  • -Learning
  • -Talented artists and musicians, but also have a dark side

Preferences in Romance: Do what you said you’d do, events that are discussed ahead of time, guided tours, meaningful entertainment, education outings, museums, historical tours, constant encouragement with flowers, notes, and sincere feedback, honest and complete discussions, long conversations, exploration of the emotional complexity of life, remember significant dates and details.

Motivated by structure/order

Hint: Turn the energy from negative to positive with an exercise routine or friend you call

Suggested resource: Wired That Way

“I’m proud of you.” – need to say this to men.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – For everything there is a season. God planned them in so that we can grow.

Every 7 years we have a change in our lives. These changes can be opportunities to grow. Marriages are made and broken in the transitions of life.

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven”
from the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats

 

This is my third post of sharing information from the NAME Marriage Conference. You may want to check out the first and second posts as well.


NAME Conference: Thoughts on Marriage from Dale & Loredanna Reddekopp AND Five Minute Friday

Marriage is

This is my second post about the NAME Conference my husband and I attended in November. The first post was about how men and women relate differently.

ReddekoppsDale and Loredanna Reddekopp shared in the second main session. They are a committed husband and wife team, the parents of two incredible adult children and one great son-in-law, partners in pastoral ministry for over 27 years, and BEST FRIENDS! They love hanging out with each other, going for walks and having breakfast dates. Their great desire is that all couples would have the loving and forgiving marriages that God intended for them to have.

Here are some ideas they shared:

Marriage is a work in progress. How are you working on your marriage?

  1. Be intentional (date nights, talking)
  2. Practice good things
  3. Be willing to change; the more you change, the better things go

Expectations are often developed because of the experiences we’ve had.

We come into our marriage with default settings. We need to change the default settings to something we both agree on.

Dealing with conflict:

  1. Acknowledge that it is there; Everybody has conflict!
  2. Allow yourself to feel the tension

Philippians 4:2 – Because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.

When you are sending your teenager out for the night: “Remember that you are representing yourself and remember that what you say and where you go represents your Mom and I. Represent us well. Even more importantly, you belong to Jesus Christ. You have a responsibility to represent Him well!”

Dale shared that he has a Skype date with his daughter on Fridays even now after she is married.

Dale also shared a story. He and Loredanna have made it a practice to kiss each other every time they are in the car together and they have to stop at a red light. Their daughter and son-in-law have adopted this practice. Recently their daughter and son-in-law drove to the States for a conference. They took two other guys with them. When the two guys asked about the kisses, the son-in-law quipped, “Dude, it’s not about you.”

“Instead of getting bitter, we want to get better.”

Romans 12 – Don’t just pretend to love others (your spouse); hate what is wrong, hold to what is good.

Ideas to try:

  1. Open the car door for your wife
  2. Write notes for every day when your spouse is gone on a trip and make sure your spouse will find them.
  3. Leave a note on the door – “I left you 5 notes to find”
  4. Meet your spouse at the door and give them a hug and kiss
  5. Go to marriage enrichment opportunities with your spouse
  6. Give your spouse a pedicure
  7. Love Value Appreciate – LVA notes. (Send a text or write on a mirror) Do this even if you’re ticked off with your partner. (LVA – you go to work for us; LVA your tender kindness to me etc.)

Matthew 6:33 – Seek God first, even in your marriage.

Suggested book (Click on the image below to purchase the book from Amazon.ca):

How to Argue

Thanks, Loredanna and Dale.

Five Minute Friday – Still

Still – peace, quietness, perseverance, something that endures and continues for a long time.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

In our busy world, we need to teach ourselves to be still and quiet. It’s easy to get caught up in too much busyness, too much people pleasing, too much doing, too much emptiness. Instead, we need to be still. We need to ground ourselves in God and His word so that we can serve with a full heart instead of running around with an empty heart.

Still – You’re still eating healthy? This still speaks of perseverance, endurance, grit, determination, stick-to-it-iveness (is there such a word?). I believe this still grows out of the first – being still and knowing God.

Still – I can hear a groan with this still. Do I still have to wash the dishes?

Time’s up. Which still will we focus on today?

Want to participate in Five Minute Friday? Here’s Kate’s description:

Welcome to another week of Five Minute Friday — an online community where bloggers who mostly don’t even dare to call themselves writers put their brave on week after week and bring the internet alive with their beautiful words.

It’s a place where we write free and deep and wide, where we let it all spill onto the screen in all its messy, jumbled up glory. It’s a place to link arms with others, to lift them up, to shine a light, to give hope.

Link in on Kate’s blog here.


The choice is always yours - conflict or connect. Quote from Bill and Pam Farrel

NAME Marriage Conference: Men and Women Relate Differently

The choice is always yours - conflict or connect. Quote from Bill and Pam Farrel

This past week, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the NAME Marriage Conference in Edmonton. In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of the nuggets of wisdom that were shared at the conference.

Bill and Pam Farrel shared with candor and humor. Their first session was about how we relate differently.

  • Being perfect is NOT a good pursuit in life! The goal is to be on a journey together. Take your vows seriously, but not yourselves.
  • Our differences fascinate us . . . and they frustrate us. Genesis 1:27
  • Most couples don’t know what to do with their differences
  • Men are like waffles: They tend to think in boxes, and spend time in one box at a time. As men mature they jump boxes faster, but they always have one single focus at a time. Men are problem solvers. If men get to a box and don’t know what a solution is, they just move on. Some boxes are just plain empty.
  • Women are like spaghetti: Women integrate like a plate of noodles that all touch each other. We travel through life making emotional connections. Multi-tasking is a gift to women, but it can be frustrating to our husbands.

Men and Women Relate Differently

Most couples live with an assumption in their relationship – all conversations are going to be good for both of us. This isn’t true. We need to take turns when it’s time for communication.

The point is to help her finish. If the woman thinks you see her as important, she will want to connect with you. When trust is reignited, a woman is ready to connect. For women, the relationship is built on trust, not content. Men need to pack their bags and go on a listening journey.

Women need to stay in the box with men. Guys do have feelings, they are just slow to reveal themselves. Feelings sink to the bottom of every box. The key to unlock your husband’s heart is to let them live in the box they feel safe in. Become a great listener. Instead of seeing and opening issues surrounding the box your husband is talking about, stay in the box.

Romans 15:7 – accept the person the way God made him.

It’s easy to see differences as flaws. Some things are hard-wired in! I’m going to accept you the way God made you, not the way I wish God made you.

When a man solves problems he uses only one side of his brain; A woman uses both sides of her brain when solving a problem.

When a man eats, the part of his brain that makes him feel happier is stimulated; When a woman eats, the part of her brain that sharpens her eyesight is stimulated. She becomes more aware of her environment and has more to talk about. Relationship works better when food is involved.

Our differences cause us to communicate differently.

4 Levels of Communication:

  1. Small Talk – helpful in determining which relationships to continue or to get things done.
  2. Thoughts and Ideas – preferences; goal is to share the idea with the willingness to defer to the other person.
  3. Opinions and convictions – you share who you really are (Morals, ethics, raising kids, God, political persuasions) Your best friends tend to agree with you. If you have a high level of agreement as husband and wife, you will have less conflict. You need to make appointments to talk about these things.
  4. Emotional connection – All of us are a combination of what we think and what we feel. Decisions need to be made based on truth. Some things in life you just love and some things you’re just not interested in. One of the reasons you’re with the person you’re with is because you share “chemistry”.

When you load up your life with responsibility, you have to have a way to keep the emotional connection. James 1:19

Four Steps to Being a Great Listener:

  1. Repeat Key Phrases
  2. Rephrase (What I hear you saying is ….)
  3. Regroup (Am I in the ballpark?)
  4. Reconnect (Is it a little like this…?)

The choice is always yours – conflict or connection